Practical Solutions for Aches & Pains

Post date: Sep 6, 2018 2:14:07 AM

This is not meant to substitute for a consultation with professional medical personnel. If you are in pain, go get the professional you need as soon as possible.

There is a stigma, a myth, that physical symptoms equate to weakness and incompetency. It follows then that most students are not forthcoming about physical aches. While untreated symptoms and the accompanying denial quickly compromise their practicing and confidence, we as teachers CAN make a tremendous impact and smoke out the issues early on. We can never substitute for a consultation with professional medical personnel. If they are in pain, we need to urge them to go get the professional they need as soon as possible. What we can do is to emphasize the importance of their self-awareness of their own health.

At regular intervals in the lesson hour, I make it a point to ask my students to self-monitor their muscle tension, among other awareness topics, and this practice has paid off. The younger ones especially seem to need my permission for them to bring up such things. Once they are are aware of the problems, we can attend to the sore spot immediately with intentional breathing. For minors, a follow-up conversation with parents is sometimes necessary to help them realize there are issues. I find that cold- hot- cold pack treatment, alternating five minutes each, is the quickest way to stop the inflammation. I start with cold to stop this inflammation from spreading, the hot to increase circulation, and the cold again to seal it off.

Developing physical awareness while practicing is a non-negotiable part of healthy playing. Posture is a good opener, in addition to regular assessment of tension spots, Musical BreathworkTM, and a better understanding of the complexities of our functional anatomy.

While Advil and Tylenol work quickly, they don’t easily come out of the body. A more natural remedy would be the "Serious Relaxer" herbal tincture made by Boulder's WishGarden. If they have had a muscle problem for awhile, then I may suggest lying on that spot atop “Miracle Balls”, a therapy I learned from my dance teacher. They are just the right amount of pressure for releasing knots, and only costs $20 on Amazon. Many dancers also love to apply the herbal based “Deep Blue” ointment, while numerous chiropractors recommend the chemically based “BioFreeze”. For maintenance, we practice effective breath techniques, use a combination of stretching and strengthening, and add meditation to address any triggers. For chronic issues, helping them find the words to communicate well with their physical therapists and counselors is valuable. I also insist on starting their practice and lesson with basic warmups to take away all the physical challenges and focus on the quality of basic motions. Scales are miraculously effective for troubleshooting technical issues and thereby preventing injury. In the end, the magical result is that caring for their physical wellness always means not only pain prevention, but a more beautiful tone and more enjoyment.

© Hsing-ay Hsu 2019, 2021